Fourth-graders celebrate regions of theU.S.
“It’s got a different twist every year,” said Principal Paula Bleakley. “It’s always regions of the United States and they always do songs across the region, but from different time periods.”
This year’s performance featured songs with roots in swing and country, like “Blowing in the Wind,” by Bob Dylan, and “Sweet Home Chicago.”
This year was the first year students did a “living museum” as part of their celebration. Each student chose a different influential figure, living or dead, and dressed as them. After the concert, visitors met the figures and learned more about them through student presentations and poster boards, focusing on how that person impacted a certain region of the United States.
Fourth-grade teacher Dawn Taranto said the decision to do the museum this year stemmed from the students’ interest in biographies.
“They’ve been researching United States regions and picked a person from a region and looked at how the region affected that person,” she said. “If they were born in a different region, would they have been who they are?”
“They took it to a level I didn’t know they were going to,” she said.
The students represented a variety of figures, some historical and others more contemporary. They represented a range of fields, from entertainment to sports and writing. Visitors were given a clipboard with a scavenger hunt to find certain figures as they weaved through the likes of people like Bruno Mars and Shirley Temple.
Addie Althoff, 10, decided to study Jackie Kennedy at the suggestion of her mom. Not only was Kennedy related to the White House, which Addie wanted, but she has some things in common with the fourth-grader, such as a love of horses and fashion.
Other students chose figures whose work had a more personal impact on their lives. Charlotte Ruhe, 10, chose to portray the musical composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway smash hit, “Hamilton.” Her twin sister portrayed Alexander Hamilton, the inspiration behind the musical.
“I love the play ‘Hamilton’ and I like all the music,” Charlotte said, saying her favorite songs are “Dear Theodosia” and “Aaron Burr, Sir.” “When I found out he wrote it and had a connection to the United States (Miranda grew up in New York City and graduated from Wesleyan University), I wanted to do it. I sing the music in my sleep.”
“I like a lot of her books,” Paige said, with a pile of DiCamillo’s books by her side. “I read ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ and ‘Tiger Rising’ and they had a lot of symbolism and left off at a cliffhanger.”
Erik Huss, 10, also decided to portray one of his favorite creative minds. Using wire-rimmed glasses and some face paint, he transformed himself into filmmaker George Lucas. Through the project, he was able to learn more about Lucas’ work and what led him to become a filmmaker.
“I love ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones,’ ” he said. “They’re two of my favorite movies and I love the people he works with. He actually wanted to be a race car driver, but crashed and changed his mind.”
The students brought in characters’ favorite foods or food from their region, something that has been done in previous years.